Pike’s proud to be a BisonFARGO — His grandmother was born in Dickinson. So in one sense, it’s not as if this state was totally out of the realm of college possibilities for John Pike — a football player from San Diego Mesa Community College. He’s only been at North Dakota State for one season and three games — it just seems longer.
By: Jeff Kolpack, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — His grandmother was born in Dickinson. So in one sense, it’s not as if this state was totally out of the realm of college possibilities for John Pike — a football player from San Diego Mesa Community College.
He’s only been at North Dakota State for one season and three games — it just seems longer.
His statistics weren’t eye-popping by any means last year, getting 16 tackles in NDSU’s 14 games. He recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pass in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoff game at Montana State.
But he’s one of those role players that every team needs, a senior who has practically seen it all.
“He’s flying around out there and he can’t weigh much more than, what, 180 pounds?” said Bison tight end Matt Veldman. “He’s pretty fearless on the football field.”
He’s listed at 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, although that appears generous in the world of Division I FCS players. He doesn’t care about size anyway, since he’s been one of these guys who doesn’t strike fear with first impressions.
Ask any college coach during recruiting.
“Any visit I took, I got ‘the look,’” Pike said. “I’ve been small, overlooked my whole life, but I feel like I don’t have to prove anything except to myself. I’ve proven it to myself and I know I can play at this level.”
So when starting free safety Danny Eaves went down with a knee injury in practice two weeks ago, having an experienced, mature senior behind him was a luxury NDSU needed.
The Bison haven’t missed a defensive beat in the secondary, and last week was proof positive. NDSU held a throwing quarterback like Illinois State’s Matt Brown in check.
That’s the way Pike likes it.
“It was nothing new to me, because I prepare myself just as a starter would,” he said. “I don’t look at myself as a backup. I look at myself as a starter even though I’m behind Danny Eaves. And if I get called on, I’ll fill in just as well as anybody would.”
Pike will be in the starting lineup again Saturday when the Bison travel to Southern Illinois. His first career Bison start came in front of 50,000-plus fans at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. There weren’t many University of Minnesota Gophers receivers getting open in the Bison secondary.
Illinois State went after him a little more last week, he said. He expects something similar on Saturday.
“They might take some shots, too, but I’m ready for it,” he said. “I’m used to people seeing me on the field and the quarterback licking his chops looking at this guy and saying, ‘I’m going to attack him.’ I have a lack of size, but I make up for it with production. I feel that’s what it’s all about. No matter how big you are, how tall you are, how fast you are, football is about making plays and I feel I can do that at the highest level.”
He intercepted a school-record 10 passes his second year at San Diego Mesa. He picked one off last month that stopped a Saint Francis University (Pa.) scoring drive at the Bison 1 – an athletic diving interception that he initially tipped with one hand.
Scott Van Pelt would have been proud. He’s the ESPN talk show host who read Pike’s email to him on his show last year.
“I’m going to enjoy every last second here,” Pike said. “I’ve loved my whole experience here. I would not want to be anywhere else.”
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead,
which is owned by
Forum Communications Co.